Published by JAMA Internal Medicine, the study Trends in Mortality for Medicare Beneficiaries Treated in the Emergency Department from 2009 to 2016 analysed 15 million US Emergency Department (ED) visits among Medicare beneficiaries to see how often patients were admitted to the hospital—versus sent home from the ED—and whether this changed over time.
Lead author and emergency physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Dr Laura Burke and colleagues also examined whether changes in mortality rates over time for Medicare beneficiaries using the ED were similar across different types of hospitals, including large academic medical centres, small community hospitals, urban hospitals and rural hospitals. They also explored whether these trends were greater for the sickest ED patients compared to the healthiest.
The results of the study – which was funded by the Emergency Medicine Foundation through its Value of Emergency Care grant – revealed that indeed, patient admittance and discharge rates did improve – the mortality rates of patients within 30 days of being sent home from the ED improved 23 per cent – a trend visible across patient populations, but greatest for the patients with the most severe emergencies. What this equates to, the study noted, is 20,000 fewer deaths in 2016 than if mortality rates stayed the same as 2009.
"Emergency physicians provide immense value to patients and the health system," said Dr Burke. "Data suggests that even as patients visiting EDs have become sicker with more complex chronic conditions, the quality and efficiency of emergency care continues to improve ─ often preventing more costly hospital stays and enabling patients to lead healthier lives."
Read the full study here.